Colorado I Have A Dream Foundation

CIHAD is a long-term academic, social mentorship, and mental health program for youth from under-resourced neighborhoods in Metro Denver. Since 1988, CIHAD has made a difference in the lives of students, whom we affectionately call "Dreamers". Your support helps to make students' dreams a reality.

More Information

Fundraising Pages

Want to do more for your favorite charity? We’ve made it easy for you to raise money by creating a personalized fundraising page.

Start a fundraiser Current fundraisers for this charity (0)

Colorado I Have A Dream Foundation 360 Program




Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)
Ethnic/Racial Minorities -- General
Poor/Economically Disadvantaged


The Colorado "I Have a Dream"® Foundation (CIHAD), founded in 1988, is a long-term academic, social-emotional, mentorship and career-readiness program for youth who live in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods in Metro Denver or attend schools that have higher-than-average family poverty rates. Over the past 30 years, CIHAD has provided 1160 participants with a vast array of supports and opportunities that have positively influenced their life trajectory.

Deepening segregation of housing and the separation of many metropolitan areas across the US into separate school districts are fundamental causes of vastly uneven levels in the quality of schooling. No short-term fix for poverty exists, and as gentrification in central Denver continues at a frenetic rate, poorer families will increasingly get pushed out to the suburbs where they find fewer services and transportation, making access to jobs more difficult. The damaging educational effects of diminished access to high quality options for schooling and employment becomes cyclic within families. Colorado is ranked 3rd nationally in terms of the percentage of jobs projected to require post-secondary education/training for employment, yet in school finance, Colorado receives a D-plus and ranks 40th. Colorado ranks 42nd in how much it spends per student; the adjusted per-pupil expenditure is $,9960, which is almost $2,500 below the national average. This imbalance explains the existence of the Colorado Paradox, the trend of transplants who move to Colorado from other states tending to hold post-secondary credentials, temporarily raising the state's overall levels of college graduates, while students graduating from Colorado high schools are far less likely to complete a college certificate or degree program.

The Colorado "I Have A Dream" Foundation addresses these disparities by providing wrap-around services that bridge academic, social-emotional and economic gaps. CIHAD spends approximately $2,500 per pupil for its comprehensive wrap-around service model. Closing this financial/resource gap is critical because research has shown that children and families who have experiences traveling abroad, participating in creative arts and other cultural experiences, in addition to academic support systems, are described as having the most potential for academic and social success. These experiences are often described as social or cultural capital (Bourdieu, 1984; Franklin, 2002), and are often commonplace in middle and upper-class life and are often absent in the lives of inner-city minority youth. CIHAD Foundation's long-term holistic model levels the playing field for students by providing access to "middle-upper class" social/cultural experiences and by providing wrap-around services that address and fix many long-term systemic issues.

For 26 years, CIHAD provided academic, social emotional, mentoring and college readiness supports through a program service model that was developed and branded through the national "I Have A Dream" Foundation. This model selected 3rd grade students (40 -65 students) from an elementary school and provided 10-years of consecutive programming and a college scholarship upon high school graduation. As of Spring 2018, CIHAD has successfully completed 13 cohorts with an average high school graduation rate of 90%. Although the traditional service model was successful, we decided to replicate these services and offer them to a larger student population. In Fall 2014, CIHAD partnered with the STRIVE Preparatory Network to begin a new "whole-school model" at STRIVE Prep - Ruby Hill, an elementary school in Southwest Denver. CIHAD's whole-school model offers Dreamers and their families' year-round on-site wrap-around supports including; push-in and one-on-one pull reading and math supports, small group and one-on-one social-emotional supports and interventions during the school day. In addition, CIHAD offers a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (S.T.E.A.M.) after-school Program and a S.T.E.A.M. Camp during summers. For the 2018-2019 academic year, CIHAD will provide on-site supports to 511 students in grades K-5.


Evidence of Program's Success

The graduation rates for our first two groups of Dreamers were 88% and 83% respectively, nearly twice the graduation rates for youth at the same schools not involved in our program. In subsequent years, our cohorts graduated at rates higher than the current district average; rates for two cohorts were 93% and 94% respectively, and rates for the other six completed cohorts ranged between 71% and 85%. 94% of our most recently completed class has pursued post-secondary education-four-year, two-year college, or vocational training. The post-secondary retention rate for this recent class is 74%, compared to a national average for low-income youth of 9.5%.

Key aspects of this profile information have been reviewed by Community First Foundation staff. Each organization is exclusively responsible for the content that appears on the profile page. Community First Foundation offers general guidance as to the purpose of each area but does not require or encourage charities to include anything in particular in each section.